As a youngster growing up in the 80’ies, I loved watching The Smurfs on TV. We were allowed only a limited amount of screen time, so you had to prioritise… and The Smurfs always made the cut! For some reason these tiny blue creatures fascinated me. They all lived peacefully in harmony with nature and, most of the time, with each other, thanks to Papa Smurf’s loving leadership. The beauty of Papa Smurf was that he had the ability to identify each Smurf’s strengths (and weaknesses) and created opportunities accordingly for each Smurf to develop their full potential and be their best! Sounds like a top-notch leader to me!
A lot of our kids today are in need of Papa Smurfs: key figures they can look up to, turn to in difficult times and trust wholeheartedly when life seems to go awry. They’re yearning for suitable leaders to build lasting relationships with.
So, as a teacher/parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/mentor, how can you be a successful Papa Smurf? If I may share a few suggestions from my side:
- Really KNOW your Smurfs/children/learners.
- IDENTIFY their strengths and weaknesses.
- DEVELOP an UNDERSTANDING of each one’s unique qualities.
- CREATE OPPORTUNITIES for them to develop their unique strengths.
- Make ADJUSTMENTS, where needed, to help them address and overcome their weaknesses.
- Foster a RELATIONSHIP with each of your Smurfs, so they’ll know you’re in it for the long haul.
As we all know: children (people) differ and each have unique characteristics, which might complicate your job as Papa Smurf. To simplify things, let’s consider your Smurfs from a sensory perspective. They might include any of the following:
- This sensory seeking Smurf has a high threshold for sensory input and wants to be busy all the time.
- He appears active, “on the go”, is continuously engaging and energetic.
- Some of his strengths are his creativeness, energy and ability to cope with unexpected change.
- Lazy Smurf also has a high threshold for sensory input but responds passively and has low registration.
- This Smurf easily misses environmental clues, takes longer to respond and appears laid-back and disinterested.
- Some of his strengths include his easy-going nature and flexibility.
- He is a sensory sensitive creature who has a low threshold for sensory stimuli and needs less input.
- He has a high level of awareness, becomes irritated quite easily and needs to be “in tune” with his environment.
- Some of his strengths are his ability to be organised and having a good eye for detail.
- Scaredy Smurf also has a low threshold for sensory input and is a sensory avoider.
- He can easily be overwhelmed by the environment, needs structure and is resistant to change.
- Some of his strengths include his ability to create structure and routine, meticulousness and attention to detail.
It might sound like an impossible task to build relationships with and care for all these different little beings, but keep in mind that somewhere in your forming years you probably had a Papa Smurf watching out for you.
Now it’s your turn to put on that red cap!
Need some help identifying your Smurfs? Please feel free to contact us and get more information on upcoming Education Workshops.
To find out what your sensory thresholds are, do our quick Sensory Quiz. For a personalised, 25-page guide on how your senses affect the way you live, learn, work and play, visit http://sensoryintelligence.net/sensory-matrix/
Written by Marieta du Toit, a qualified Occupational Therapist with an interest in sensory integration, neurology and human behaviour in the modern world. She is based in St Francis Bay, where she manages her school-based practice dealing with children, parents, teachers, principals and health profession colleagues. Marieta is a regular blogger and is our Eastern Cape Events Co-ordinator.